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The Child Catchers

I like a good horror story, but sometimes I get so terrified I want to crawl under the covers and not emerge for a good long while. The books that terrify me, though, aren’t the one ones by Stephen King or Clive Barker — supernatural horror just makes me laugh — it’s the real-world scary stuff that makes me tremble. For a long time, my standard for nightmare fuel has been Jeff Sharlet’s The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. That’s a book that makes you aware of a kind of malevolent insanity gripping a significant chunk of the leadership of our country, a malignancy that goes unquestioned and even with approval. There really are monsters at the top.

But move over, Sharlet, here’s a new book that’s even scarier: The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, by Katherine Stewart. The monsters aren’t off in Washington DC, they’re right next door, and they’re coming for your children.

Stewart first notices these odd little happy Christian clubs popping up in her child’s schools, and then she digs deeper: she talks to their representatives. She attends their conventions. She takes their training courses. She sees precisely what they’re doing, and gets the words straight from their mouths: they’re out to convert every child in the world to their hateful, narrow, “Bible-believing” dogma, even while in public they claim to be ecumenical and kind and loving.

Who is “they”, you ask. It’s the Child Evangelism Fellowship, and just the name ought to chill you: this is an organized, well-funded group of people dedicated to proselytizing specifically to 4 to 14 year old children, the prime age for conversion.

They also have other goals, among them the total obliteration of public education. It’s ironic: they often take advantage of our institutions, leasing our public school buildings for church services and Sunday schools (They’re cheap! Professional, well-maintained buildings available at minimal cost), trading on the credibility of the schools (They try mightily to produce the illusion that their efforts are sanctioned by and part of the official school curriculum), yet privately they detest the whole principle of universal education, and their goal is to subvert the whole endeavor and turn education into Christian indoctrination.

They found something called “Good News Clubs” at schools, led by community volunteers, which superficially promote a kind of generic moral religiosity which often wins over culturally diverse communities — you know the ones I’m talking about, the kind where they might detest gay-hatin’, science-despisin’, Pat Robertson-style fundamentalism, but nod in happy agreement at the importance of faith, and blandly accept that religion in general is good and virtuous and that we should encourage our children to adopt a faith tradition…for their moral upbringing in an environment of conscience, don’t you know. What they don’t realize is that the Good News Clubs stealthily promote that gay-hatin’, science-despisin’, Pat Robertson-style fundamentalism directly to their children, while asking them not to talk about it to Mommy and Daddy. They will cheerfully take in the children of Catholics and Jews, so that they can tell those children that Catholics and Jews will burn in Hell.

These people are just plain evil. Sure, they’re kindly old grandmas and sincerely pious ordinary joes, but they’ve also got it in their heads that they must inject their poisonous beliefs into everyone’s children. And they are dedicated: they will make time and invest money in their cause. Fear them. They lie and fight dirty and will use your own liberal and progressive values to undermine those same values in gullible children.

These Good News Clubs are springing up all over the place, so the first thing I did when I finished the book was to look to see if there were any Good News Clubs in the Morris area schools. I found plenty in other schools — often in cheerfully bland announcements in PTA newsletters or school websites — but nothing about Morris. I breathed a sigh of relief, and thought that was one nightmare I’d dodged…and then…and then

Child Evangelism Fellowship is targeting Minneapolis/St Paul for a major conversion effort this summer!

Capture a city for Christ! That’s the battle cry of over a hundred workers from across America who join together to “jump start” a Gospel outreach to children in a target city.

This coming summer, CEF workers will gather in the Twin Cities of Minnesota where volunteers from local churches will be trained to reach children in their area for Jesus. These same churches will continue ministry in the fall by sponsoring Good News Clubs in the public elementary schools nearby.

It’s like the monster jumping out of the grave at the very end of the horror movie! They’re coming to get us!

Listen, Minnesotans, this is your only chance. Read The Good News Club now, before it’s too late. These people will be making proposals to your schools to install a fifth column of radical evangelical Christians into privileged positions, all in order to snare the local children into a hell-and-damnation, sulfur-and-brimstone, Satan-is-out-to-get-you, boogety boo version of hateful Christianity. Your local mega-church pastors and conservative wackjobs will be encouraging this because it’s what they believe anyway; your gentle-souled namby-pamby neighbors who see nothing wrong with faith will go along because they are ignorant and unaware.

Sound the warning. They’re here already! You’re next!

Or perhaps, more accurately, the Child Catchers are coming to town.

Comments

  1. says

    Ten 5-star reviews, five 1-star reviews, and one 2-star review. Naturally, the negative reviews lend credence to the author’s thesis.

    It is painfully obvious that the author denies God’s active role in the world, as well as His call for all to trust in Him for salvation and to follow Him in obedient living.

    Snip a herd of teal deer with lots of ALL CAPS.

  2. janine says

    Ms. Daisy Cutter, now I am picturing those buses being filled with Jerri Blanks. You know, ahem, strangers with candy.

  3. andusay says

    1) Looks like a really good publication, even though I have not read it yet (can I judge a book by its title?).

    2) This is news? See “Jesus Camp”. See Answers in Genesis'(AIG) Vacation bible school (VBS) resources and their homeschool materials and articles. And about 100 others.

    These guys are definitely desperate to brainwash children to the cause. What do you think all those AIG childrens resources are for? The homeshool convention is HUGE. And the Fundies own it.

    AIG is on a MAJOR kick in this area, see their “Already Gone” series (which, in some ways, is quite heartening as well as sickening). The Creation Museum (eck!) is part of this and their Ark adventure or whatever the fuck it is called is just another notch up in this arms race. Their shit might be for parents, but its mostly for kids.

    Scary shit.

  4. Dick the Damned says

    It’s amazing that they’re blind to the immorality of what they’re doing to the kids. But maybe they’re not blind to it at all?

    Whatever, some cognitive dissonance is involved with these liars for Jebus.

  5. says

    2) This is news? See “Jesus Camp”. See Answers in Genesis’(AIG) Vacation bible school (VBS) resources and their homeschool materials and articles. And about 100 others.

    Seeing as they’re not in the public schools, yeah, it is.

    Christers are scary shit, though lately I’m getting more annoyed by liberal Christians.

  6. janine says

    Christers are scary shit, though lately I’m getting more annoyed by liberal Christians.

    And just think, this is made to appeal to the liberal christian.

    Some of us like to joke about coming over to the dark side because we have cookies. They lack the humor.

  7. raven says

    Hmmm, I wonder how setting up Reality News Clubs in grade schools would work.

    Something like Camp Quest without the canoes and lake.

    They could teach critical and skeptical reasoning, always very useful in our advertising saturated society, science, and logic.

    How could anyone object? To critical reasoning, science, and logic?

    Wait, what’s that I hear in the background. Seems to be a mob of angry xians carrying torches, pitchforks, M16s, and lawyers. These horror movies always end this way.

  8. raven says

    As horrible as this all is, they do have giant holes in their buckets.

    1. The Southern Baptists have lost members for 4 years in a row and are down about 1.5 million members from their peak.

    2. Retention rates of young people in the SBC are 30%.

    3. The US Catholic church has recently lost an astounding 22 million members, 1/3 of them.

    4. Polls and the xians own numbers show them losing 1-2 million members every year.

    Projections have the xians going below 50% by around 2050. These long term projections are a bit uncertain though. By then, they might have destroyed the USA, to take one example.

  9. raven says

    Stewart first notices these odd little happy Christian clubs popping up in her child’s schools, and then she digs deeper: she talks to their representatives.

    Most parents get pretty ouraged when other people start fooling around with their kids, especially trying to indoctrinate them in some weird xian cult religion.

    I can’t see it working too well when little Suzy comes home from school, starts checking in the closet and under her bed for demons, exorcizes the cats, and tells mom and dad they are going to hell because they don’t go to church.

    PS Is this even legal in public schools? Seems pretty borderline.

  10. Gregory Greenwood says

    They found something called “Good News Clubs” at schools, led by community volunteers, which superficially promote a kind of generic moral religiosity which often wins over culturally diverse communities — you know the ones I’m talking about, the kind where they might detest gay-hatin’, science-despisin’, Pat Robertson-style fundamentalism, but nod in happy agreement at the importance of faith, and blandly accept that religion in general is good and virtuous and that we should encourage our children to adopt a faith tradition…for their moral upbringing in an environment of conscience, don’t you know. What they don’t realize is that the Good News Clubs stealthily promote that gay-hatin’, science-despisin’, Pat Robertson-style fundamentalism directly to their children, while asking them not to talk about it to Mommy and Daddy.

    All religion is poisonous – even the soft, supposedly inclusivist, ‘liberal’ christianity more often than not simply functions as a gateway drug to the hardcore fundamentalist stuff.

    And, like all drug pushers, these evangelist monsters are very keen to get ‘em hooked young…

  11. eric says

    What they don’t realize is that the Good News Clubs stealthily promote that gay-hatin’, science-despisin’, Pat Robertson-style fundamentalism directly to their children, while asking them not to talk about it to Mommy and Daddy.

    My bold. That’s got to border on illegal behavior. Is there some legal angle here that says guardians need to give informed consent, with informed meaning you-must-tell-us-what-you-tell-our-kids?

    And yeah, I understand there can be exceptions to that. But carving out an exception for 16-year olds buying birth control does not mean we need to carve out an exception for 4-year olds to get parent-opposed religious instruction.

  12. Conor Sans Pantaloons says

    How could anyone object? To critical reasoning, science, and logic?

    Wait, what’s that I hear in the background. Seems to be a mob of angry xians carrying torches, pitchforks, M16s, and lawyers. These horror movies always end this way.

    Precisely, reality combined with reason is their Frankenstein’s monster. I keep picturing groups like these as cranky old coffin stuffers, clinging to the legs of progress in an effort to slow it down, screaming “Nooo!” at the expanding knowledge and insights as they come in. Why do they want the worst to be true?

  13. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    raven: The GNC is perfectly legal…in fact, it is illegal to prevent such clubs from forming.

    The first time that my wife and I encountered the GNC was at the orientation to our daughters pre-K, before she had even officially enrolled. They get ya early.

    However:
    My daughter reports that her classmates that attend GNC meetings find it incomparably dull, a pain made more acute as they are able to watch the YMCA afterschoolers playing outside through a classroom window. She expresses a keen disinterest in attending these meetings, given her impression of them. Thanks GNC for turning my kid off to religion for me, and through word of mouth to boot.

  14. Happiestsadist says

    I’m also kind of fascinated by the “Don’t tell your parents” angle. There’s gotta be a way to push back against that shit legally.

  15. rickschauer says

    Glen @#3

    Spot on, Brother.

    They will stop at nothing to return us all to the dark ages.

  16. raven says

    raven: The GNC is perfectly legal…in fact, it is illegal to prevent such clubs from forming.

    Well OK.

    Not seeing how a children’s club that teaches young kids to oppose their parents is going to be too popular.

    But if Good Child Brainwashing Fundie Xian Clubs are legal, then the Skeptical Humanistic Critical Thinking clubs have to be exactly as legal.

    Not to mention, the ALLAH Fans to Explain Sharia Law club. Or the Let’s Memorize all 613 mitzvots (laws) in the Torah club.

  17. rickschauer says

    Gregory Greenwood @ #13

    All religion is poisonous – even the soft, supposedly inclusivist, ‘liberal’ christianity more often than not simply functions as a gateway drug to the hardcore fundamentalist stuff.

    And, like all drug pushers, these evangelist monsters are very keen to get ‘em hooked young…

    And along the same lines, isn’t it amazing that drug users are regularily required by our sin, guilt judge, atone court system to go to AA and get their higher-powers on to rid themselves of drugs?

    Ohh, ahhh, and forget teh fact AA has about a 95% fail-rate.

  18. SteveV says

    Don’t I recall RD catching a shitload of flak for calling this sort of thing “Child Abuse”?

  19. cjmitchell says

    Jeff Sharlot’s books have completely changed how I look at the conservative religious movement in this country. And by changed, I mean it’s gone from “amused” to “terrified.” It hasn’t exactly helped any positive feelings I may harbor deep in my brain for capitalism, either.

    We have one of those child evangelism centers in my town, too. I drive past it on the way to work. It’s next to a Sirs & Hers and a piano shop. I suspect this is the organization who brought in a “guest speaker” we were all subjected to in high school. During the school presentation, we got some nonspecific gobbledygook about how suicide is bad, drugs are bad, and we should all help each other.

    It was designed to be a real punch to the gut, emotionally, even though it didn’t have much in the way of a message about what practical steps a community can take to help those who are struggling. The idea was the lure in all these vulnerable middle- and high-schoolers out to the after-hours presentation, in which they battered you with real-life stories of horribly depressed people shooting themselves and how much money heroin costs. The message gradually morphed from “people are messed up” to “people are messed up but God will save you from all that.” At the end of the presentation they asked all the god-bots to report any non-god-bots in the room (I got tattled on), and we were promptly herded out of the auditorium where we were handed a bunch of brochures full of smiling white people and a volunteer taught us how to pray with a soft voice and hands with an iron grip.

    I came home that night furious at the friend who had roped me into going. I had no idea that the presentation was religious in nature, and if I had I wouldn’t have had any interest. As I thought more about it I was even more furious that the school district had forced all their students to attend the assembly. I put the papers down on the dining room table. My grandmother spotted them and started lavishly praising me for getting religion, which was at once embarrassing and more infuriating. I realized right then and there what religion, particularly evangelism, was all about: control, by deception when necessary.

    Now, every time I drive by the Child Evangelism office I want to bust out a can of spray paint.

    ..This would maybe make a good Why I am an Athiest email, wouldn’t it?

  20. says

    Re: the videos P.Z. posted–they remind me more of the Gobblers from His Dark Materials. Lure children with chocolate and then take something irreplaceable from them. Instead of a daemon, they take the child’s ability to think critically and reason.

  21. truthspeaker says

    Legally this might not be as cut and dried as people think. In Stewart’s case, they never could find out who invited GNC into the school system. A school has to accommodate a student club if a student wants to start one. This seems to be a case of an organization coming in from outside and wanting use of school facilities.

  22. Gregory Greenwood says

    rickschauer @ 21;

    And along the same lines, isn’t it amazing that drug users are regularily required by our sin, guilt judge, atone court system to go to AA and get their higher-powers on to rid themselves of drugs?

    You make an excellent point. No small number of these AA groups (in the US at least) are aggressively evangelistic get-clean-with-jeebus type operations that simply seek to replace a chemical addiction with a theological one.

    Marx famously called religion ‘the opiate of the people’, and the parallel between religion and narcotics has only grown stronger since his time.

    Ohh, ahhh, and forget teh fact AA has about a 95% fail-rate.

    This is no great surprise when one considers that many AA programs are more interested in garnering converts that in actually helping people…

  23. Gregory Greenwood says

    SteveV @ 22;

    Don’t I recall RD catching a shitload of flak for calling this sort of thing “Child Abuse”?

    Yes he did, probably from the same kind of people who blame the epidemic of clerical child abuse on ‘seductive’ children.

  24. jaybee says

    “What they don’t realize is that the Good News Clubs stealthily promote that gay-hatin’, science-despisin’, Pat Robertson-style fundamentalism directly to their children, while asking them not to talk about it to Mommy and Daddy.”

    I wonder if it is illegal to send your child wearing a wire.

  25. says

    They found something called “Good News Clubs” at schools, led by community volunteers, which superficially promote a kind of generic moral religiosity which often wins over culturally diverse communities — you know the ones I’m talking about, the kind where they might detest gay-hatin’, science-despisin’, Pat Robertson-style fundamentalism, but nod in happy agreement at the importance of faith, and blandly accept that religion in general is good and virtuous and that we should encourage our children to adopt a faith tradition…for their moral upbringing in an environment of conscience, don’t you know. What they don’t realize is that the Good News Clubs stealthily promote that gay-hatin’, science-despisin’,

    Jesus Christ, does that sound like Methodism.

  26. Amphiox says

    If you believe in eternal damnation, then any and all earthly actions, no matter how despicable, can be justified by the saving of souls from the hellfire.

    And that really is the root of the problem. The root problem that theism produces arises from the ideology of eternal judgment. Some version of this ideology is, if you trace it far back enough, the root source of almost all the evil ever perpetrated in the entirety of human history.

    That is why the so called “moderate” theism is ultimately no better than the fundamentalist version, because it accepts and promotes this ideology as well. That is why accommodationism is wrong even if it were to be as effective in swaying opinions as its proponents claim it to be, because even if it were so, it just trades short term gain for greater long term harm.

    A belief in a supernatural creator entity/god without the ideology of eternal judgment is actually relatively harmless.

  27. Rip Steakface says

    But if Good Child Brainwashing Fundie Xian Clubs are legal, then the Skeptical Humanistic Critical Thinking clubs have to be exactly as legal.

    Not to mention, the ALLAH Fans to Explain Sharia Law club. Or the Let’s Memorize all 613 mitzvots (laws) in the Torah club.

    They are perfectly legal, just uncommon, and when formed, they’re typically harassed and bullied by whatever religious groups are popular at the school. My school, thankfully, has no Good News Club, there’s just the typical Bible Club.

    I’m tempted to join them just so I can mess with them and point out atrocities, poor logic and general idiocy in the Bible. However, I’m not as skilled or snappy as the majority of the Horde, and I’d probably need an equally witty and confident atheist friend to join with me and assist in the fucking around.
    We’d probably end up getting kicked out, though.

    Since there is a fairly limited number of rationalists at my school (there are no responsible, respectable, respectful people
    who aren’t Christian other than myself and maybe two others – all of the other atheists are annoying, wannabe-rebellious party animals more keen on using meth than promoting rationalism), it’s unlikely that any attempt by myself of founding a “Skeptics’ Club” would succeed at all.

    Plus, I’d have to find a teacher willing to have us meet in their room – we have maybe one or two fundie teachers and the rest are wishy-washy liberal Christians. My freshman math teacher is agnostic, and that’s all I can think of. We have a token lesbian teacher for the local GSA (which I would join if not for Tri-M), but no token atheist :P

  28. Psych-Oh says

    The Good News Club sued our school district a few years ago because they were charged a higher fee to use the facilities than secular groups. They are not in my kids’ school- thankfully. They are in a few schools in my county, though.

    One thing our school does have that creeps me out is “All Pro Dads”. Christian shit just creeps into the schools here in the bible belt.

  29. chigau (dodged a bullet) says

    Rip Steakface
    You should go to the Bible Club.
    Bring your own bible.
    Actually a quick trip to a used bookstore could score you a half-dozen different versions for very cheap.
    Bring them all and ask questions.

  30. truthspeaker says

    Several of my friends have kids in either the Minneapolis or Saint Paul school districts, so I posted a link to this on Facebook as a PSA. Response from one of my friends:

    Anybody evangelizes to my kids and I’ll evangelize my boot in their ass.

  31. says

    Dick:

    It’s amazing that they’re blind to the immorality of what they’re doing to the kids.

    I’m not amazed. As Amphiox says, they rationalize any immoral acts with the idea that they’re bringing more souls to jeezus.

    Janine:

    Some of us like to joke about coming over to the dark side because we have cookies. They lack the humor.

    That’s terrifyingly accurate.

    Amphiox:

    The root problem that theism produces arises from the ideology of eternal judgment. Some version of this ideology is, if you trace it far back enough, the root source of almost all the evil ever perpetrated in the entirety of human history.

    I think you’re overstating the case; the need for some humans to feel superior to others covers a much broader range of evil.

  32. scifi says

    We have every reason to be afraid. You only have to look at the Republican candidates falling all over themselves in an attempt to get the Evangelical vote. I watched that film in which this woman starts a school to indoctrinate young kids so that they will later attempt to influence our government to push the evangelical agenda. She had a life size figure of George W. in her class room. That was one scary flick. That is why I put the following statement at the bottom of each of my emails:

    “When fascism comes to American, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”
    Sinclair Lewis

  33. leonpeyre says

    all in order to snare the local children into a hell-and-damnation, sulfur-and-brimstone,

    Not to be overly technical here (especially when you’re providing a valuable public service by warning us about these malevolent groups), but brimstone is sulfur.

  34. TonyJ says

    This kind of shit pisses me off to no end. It’s bad enough that they’re brainwashing their own kids, but they have the gall to want to brainwash mine as well?

    I’m off to check if they’ve infected Seattle yet.

  35. TonyJ says

    andusay:

    These guys are definitely desperate to brainwash children to the cause. What do you think all those AIG childrens resources are for? The homeshool convention is HUGE. And the Fundies own it.

    The difference here is that they’re no longer happy indoctrinating their own kids, they’re gotta spread the infection to others’ kids as well. They need hosts, or the virus will burn out.

  36. unclefrogy says

    I would agree 100% with the idea that eternal damnation is at the root of problems caused by Islam and Christianity which is in the case of christianity some what unexpected see as how “the founder” suggested that you should not judge others.

    This belief in damnation after death encourages being judgmental. that is how the fundamentalist of christians and muslims function they are judgmental. Since they alone know “the truth” anything they do to see that that truth is realized by the greatest number the better. because it is about eternal damnation!

    eternal life is an impossible dream to that catches the fearful.
    life may continue on until the end of time what ever time and end may mean.
    I won’t regardless!

    uncle frogy

  37. Amphiox says

    I think you’re overstating the case; the need for some humans to feel superior to others covers a much broader range of evil.

    I would argue that the evil motivated by the above alone, while broad in range, is actually, when motivated by the above alone, rather petty and inconsequential, and the truly heinous evil that comes from this occurs when it is amplified by the ideology that being superior will result in favorable eternal judgement and eternal reward, while the inferior ones will be judged so eternally and receive eternal punishment.

    eternal life is an impossible dream to that catches the fearful.

    Eternal life without eternal judgement is actually a rather benign, if silly, belief, and would not really be a very big problem. It is the concept of judgement that is the problem.

  38. arppy says

    I find any material about what evangelical religion is doing to children to be as terrifying, or more terrifying, than any given horror movie. It’s wonderful.
    Now, when they are also educational, it’s a double plus.

    I’d love more reading material and reading lists. Anyone have any recommendations?

  39. says

    Honestly, I don’t even understand how they get anyone to attend their presentations. When I was in that age group, the last thing I (and pretty much everyone I knew)wanted to do was hang around school any longer than we had to. Who wants to hang around school and get lectured any more than I had to

    Granted, I was brought up sans religion so maybe the draw just wasn’t there.

  40. cjmitchell says

    @ #46 JJ

    I was brought up agnostic: mom was an ex-Catholic, dad’s an ex-Baptist. When they did the forced (no overt references to God) assembly at school, they had a very sharp and emotionally wrenching presentation, and of course promised more of that in their after-hours event. It was billed as inspirational and a way to teach others how to respect people in unfortunate circumstances (something I believe in a lot) and how to help each other.

    My friend brought me to the event without telling me what it was. The ads in the paper didn’t say what it was, and the sponsor was in very tiny font. My friend, by the way, attempted to drag me into church activities of hers a good half a dozen times before I decided I couldn’t be her friend anymore -and that’s a hard choice for a high-school girl on the fringe of the social scene.

    The fortunate thing for me is, all the tiptoeing around the God stuff backfired. Instead of being converted via the Shock Doctrine, I was repulsed and horrified at the way they’d played the deception. It taught me that Evangelism is sneaky, dishonest, forceful and authoritarian, and convinced me that I wanted no part in it.

  41. keri says

    33: “All Pro Dad”

    Oh thank heavens someone has finally told me that yes, these guys are evangelical Christians. I’ve always been too forgetful to google them – or too depressed to want my suspicions confirmed.

    There are the All Pro Dad billboards around here, and some of the Mom ones, and they’ve always creeped me out a bit, though I couldn’t put my finger on why. I mean, other than the fact that you never see a Dad with a Daughter or a Mom with a Son, and even the activities/statements paired with the parent/child image are incredibly … limited? sexist? all that.

  42. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    When I was little, there was a local church bus that cruised around the neighborhood offering candy to kids in the street. My parents picked up on the creepy vibe, but I got the feeling at the time that nothing could be done but pity the children whose parents didn’t raise them to know better.

  43. kimberlyherbert says

    Just a legal point. If a school allows any “outside” group to meet on its property, it has to allow any outside group to meet on its property. Apparently the PTO is an outside group. So our campus was leased to a church group, because we were required to accommodate them.

    1) They took my personal projector from my room and used it – without my permission. (Thankfully my principal and I had had this conversation before about my personal technology and he shut them down cold when they complained about me locking up my projector.)

    2) A kinder teacher came on campus during one of their services and found members in her classroom taking pictures. They had leased the cafeteria/auditorium not the classrooms. We weren’t sure they were trying to condemn us for teaching (especially science and social studies) or they were “shopping”

    3) See, while they were “in residence” we were broken into 7 times. Part way through the streak of bad luck – The police suspected someone had a master key and the building was rekeyed. The MO stayed the same.

    4)Multiple kids told me they Hated having to come to school on Wednesday nights and on Sundays. Someone had convinced them that Principal required that they come. Several were afraid they would get into trouble because their parents were keeping them at home. I told the principal who made it very clear they only had to come to school if the teachers were teaching.

  44. Azuma Hazuki says

    I will never, in all my life, forgive the people who polluted me with this doctrine as a little girl. It’s what drove me to a lifetime of OCD, anxiety, panic attacks, and major unipolar depression, very likely the main factor that lost me a lover, and seems to have permanently broken me.

    Everyone above is correct: the idea of eternal torment for finite sins is the root of all religious evil. And it’s not even fucking Biblical. If you can read Koine Greek, there is simply no way you can get “eternal punishment” out of “kolasin aionion.” Origen, Theodore of Mopsuestia, possibly Irenaeus, were Universalist or Annihilationist.

    And no one in the mainstream knows any of this.

    Not one in 10,000 people is a seminarian or even has any interest in the roots of the religion; they’re almost all the “if English was good enough for Jesus it’s good enough for me!” type. Sickening. Sometimes I think we ought to set these people on fire: it’s their Hell, they can go burn in it.

  45. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    @Azuma Hazuki #52:

    the idea of eternal torment for finite sins is the root of all religious evil. And it’s not even fucking Biblical.

    Watch out for doctrine-relevant arguments based on obscure translation of a very specific phrase: both for ancient-culture/translation issues and for the distraction from other text.
     
    Video: ACA Matt Dillahunty surveys the history of hell beliefs and their popular sources, canonical and otherwise.

    * It’s an academic lecture, but given your background, trigger warning nonetheless.

  46. StevoR says

    @ Azuma Hazuki :

    I will never, in all my life, forgive the people who polluted me with this doctrine as a little girl. It’s what drove me to a lifetime of OCD, anxiety, panic attacks, and major unipolar depression, very likely the main factor that lost me a lover, and seems to have permanently broken me.

    {{Hugs}} if you want them. I don’t think you’re permanently broken, it sounds to me like you are healing, perhaps slowly surley with metaphorical scars but healing and recovering nontheless – but then I’m no expert & even if I was I don’t know you well enough to really say. My sympathies for you anyhow for whatever little they’re worth.

    These groups are just vile, rotten to their core and something to steer kids light years away from.

  47. StevoR says

    D’oh! Blockquiote fail sorry. That first paragraph is quoting #52 Azuma Hazuki.

  48. demonhype says

    Antiochus Epiphanes @ 16:

    The GNC is perfectly legal…in fact, it is illegal to prevent such clubs from forming.

    Yes, on the surface. They have to allow students to form clubs and if they allow one they have to allow them all. I understand it’s the same for outside organizations.

    The main issue here is this: Is it legal for such a club–or any club involving children–to discourage the children from telling their parents what they learn there? Is it legal for them to access public school utilities and students, obtain implicit public school sponsorship and support, and then not only teach the children the opposite of what Mom and Dad think they’re teaching them but to actively encourage them to deceive their parents about what they’re really learning?

    I mean, isn’t that a dangerous setup? Isn’t that how children tend to get abused? You leave your kid with the priest, assuming that the priest is trustworthy and can only do good for your kid–largely because the priest and his entire organization assure you that is the case. You continue to think that over the years, and the whole time he’s been raping your child and telling him/her “not to tell Mommy and Daddy”? Aren’t there laws that protect against just that sort of abuse that would undoubtedly apply here?

    I simply can’t believe it’s legal for any club or organization to access other people’s children based on false pretenses and/or discourage the kids from discussing what happens at that club with their parents. Having “a” club, fine. But having a club where the parents aren’t allowed to know what goes on, I just don’t see.

    Perhaps this is where these wingnuts get the idea that comprehensive sex ed classes are just orgies or porno shows or live how-to Karma Sutras and are only pretending on the surface to just be a reality-based, science-based informational class to help young people make better and safer decisions regarding sex, you know, to fool parents into allowing their kids to come? Typical Fundamentalist projection–if we do it, then everyone else must operate in the same sludge pit, because we can’t imagine anyone doing otherwise.

  49. DLC says

    But you see, Hell has to exist, because without Hell you have only a vague reward afterlife, and you can’t dominate people and break their will without something to fear. Something bad.
    Something horribly, awfully, bad. Without that Bad Place to scare you with, the reward of a good place just isn’t enough to leverage you into buying all the crap that goes with it.
    The whole thing bugs me no end.
    What happened to leaving religious instruction to the parents, so that the children could be brought up in the religion of the parents’ choosing, not those of some radical evangelical group ?
    Personally, I would choose to indoctrinate my children with rational, clear-thinking, science-based skepticism instead of mealy-mouthed, stultifying, 1st century CE lunacy. Guess the Jesusites are going to be glad to hear I’ve not got any children, nor do I foresee any in the future.

    Oh, and Azuma Hazuki @52 : I’m sorry the Jesusoids made such a mess of things for you, and wish you the best in your future endeavors.

  50. says

    I just finished reading this book. And, yes, it is quite frightening. It feels like the evangelicals are attacking from all sides. We definitely need a legal group to watch the Childrens Evangelical Fellowship. Just like we have NCSE watching the evolution and global warming deniers.

  51. keri says

    52: @Azuma Hazuki

    Super sympathies for you! I’m very similar, though it was ultimately the “heaven” doctrine that got to me. (No one could agree on what it was like, so the combination of striving for something completely unknown, and that I was such a horrible sinner that I would probably never get there anyway, made it more terrifying than hell, which everyone knew was simply a place of eternal fire and torment.)

    It bothers me that more parents and counselors and so on don’t realize how much this kind of thing damages children, and thus keep them away from religion. From all that I’ve seen, most parents who subject their kids to religions with that kind of doctrine think it’s normal!

  52. keri says

    Fixing vague pronoun in my last comment:

    Er, think that the “nightmares and terrors and anxieties” are normal. Of course they think the doctrines are normal.

  53. desoto says

    Daisy:

    Amphiox:

    The root problem that theism produces arises from the ideology of eternal judgment. Some version of this ideology is, if you trace it far back enough, the root source of almost all the evil ever perpetrated in the entirety of human history.

    I think you’re overstating the case; the need for some humans to feel superior to others covers a much broader range of evil.

    That and greed, among other things. Eternal damnation lends itself as an excellent tool for achieving those. Religion is the ultimate enabler.

    As far as the gnc goes, the hitler youth by any other name . . .

  54. piranhaintheguppytank says

    If we ever develop artificially intelligent machines, could this happen (excerpt from Red Dwarf):

    Lister: How can you just lie back and accept it?

    Kryten: Oh, it’s not the end for me, sir, it’s just the beginning. I have served my human masters, now I can look forward to my reward in silicon heaven.

    Lister: (Stunned pause) Silicon WHAT?

    Kryten: Surely you’ve heard of silicon heaven?

    Lister: Has it got anything to do with being stuck opposite Brigitte Nielsen in a packed lift?

    Kryten: No, sir. It’s the electronic afterlife. It’s the gathering place for the souls of all electronic equipment. Robots, toasters, calculators. It’s our final resting place.

    Lister: I don’t mean to say anything out of place here, Kryten, but that is completely whacko Jacko. There is no such thing as ‘Silicon Heaven’.

    Kryten: Then where do all the calculators go?

    Lister: They don’t go anywhere. They just die.

    Kryten: Surely you believe that God is in all things? Aren’t you a pantheist?

    Lister: Yeah, but I just don’t think it applies to kitchen utensils. I’m not a FRYING pantheist. Machines do not have souls. Computers and calculators do not have an afterlife. You don’t get hairdryers with tiny little wings, sitting on clouds and playing harps.

    Kryten: But of course you do. For is it not written in the Electronic Bible, “The Iron shall lie down with the Lamp”.

  55. drbunsen le savant fou says

    Re piranhaintheguppytank @62:

    And they wonder why there are so many comedians lined up to speak at GAC. Stuff practically writes itself.

  56. elcepe says

    Ok,

    So I am in contact with my local chapter and we’re talking about the after school program.

    I am… well… I am trying to go undercover :D Only a couple months till school is out and then I have plenty of time to dedicate to this. I want to be able to have audio or video recording of the stuff that goes on here.

    Can anyone help me with figuring out the kind of Christian I should act like when with these people?

  57. gussnarp says

    I can’t tell you how much this stuff pisses me off. Fundies, please keep your goddamn hands off of other people’s children, especially mine! My oldest is only five, and I’m not sure he’s had enough does of the critical thinking vaccine yet. Still I’m less worried about him since thinks of gods as characters in Disney movies and has a pretty good grasp on fiction versus reality, but I worry unsuspecting others who you will sink your dirty claws into.

    Oh, and whoever requested this book from the Cincinnati Public Library, I’ll try to get it turned in today, even though I haven’t finished it, but your hold and my busy schedule has already racked up 60 cents in late fees. Oh well, the library could use the money. Just try to read it faster than I have so I can check it back out.

  58. gussnarp says

    @elcepe – How are you going about this? I’m thinking about trying to go undercover with the local chapter here, but I’m afraid that if I say something like, “I’m interested in getting a chapter started at my kids’ school”, that will just get the school on their radar…

  59. elcepe says

    I’d look for a school that already has one

    I’m in talks with someone now, I’m going to meet with her in a couple of weeks to see about me helping. Should give me time to buy a button camera